Monday, January 21, 2013

Natural dyeing

Although I enjoy dyeing with chemical dyes and can achieve an incredible array of shades and colours, I still love my time spent fiddling with my natural dyebaths. Whilst the yarns are 'hurried' through the process of synthetic dyeing and I can achieve 10 or 15 kilos in a day, dyeing with plants and natural dye extracts has to take on a slower pace. The yarns need to be mordanted first in a separate process and benefit from a few days for the mordant to mature on the fibres before taking their slower wallow in the dyepot. Dyeday considerations include ambient temperature in the dyehouse, controlling the heat source so it doesn't 'overcook' the colour, testing the PH levels of the liquids, allowing the fibres to steep in the dyepot as it cools down, applying an acid or alkali finish to alter colours, keeping track and recording processes so that colours can be repeated (if I'm lucky), and mistakes avoided. Experimenting with different fibres, as even different types of wool yarns will alter the colours, and finally washing the yarns with a neutral PH detergnt and rinsing well
The alpaca yarns in this box for example take the colour in a soft way and not only appreciate more time spent in the dye liquor but also benefit from being left to cool overnight in the dye and to achieve a deeper saturation repeating a second dyebath to layer more colour onto the skein.

 Surprisingly, natural dye extracts have been around for sometime but are now much more widely available. Compared to collecting your own plant material they can be expensive. They are quite concentrated and a little goes a long way. Like other dyestuffs you can exhaust the colour from the extracts by reusing each dyebath. They do extend my colour choices and cut down on the time and energy required to extract the dye from  plant material.
Did I mention that I love the smell from these dyepots including the indigo aroma.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A pictorial yarn review

in my cauldron

 I probably need some practice at creating photo collages especially as so many bloggers do it beautifully but it was fun playing with this programe.  Anyway here's a litle review of just a few of the colourways from 2012. Looking through my dye record book I have over 40 different colour recipes recorded, but have dyed equally the same amount this year that were mixed by serendipity (or with dye colour left over).
May 2013 be as colourful.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Testing mobile blogger

A trip away is planned very soon. So I'm checking to see if I can blog from the phone.
And... Yes I can:)

Sunday, January 6, 2013


As a lover of tweed yarns I'm delighted that Andy  has added some marled alpaca yarns. Whilst not true tweeds they have enough contrast and variegation to please me. I was very keen to overdye some samples of this yarn. The spun yarns incorporate threads of natural black, fawn and brown alpaca with the cream.They are quite interesting as overdyed, variegated colourways but I personally prefer them in semi solid colourways.They are available in their natural undyed colours or hand dyed. You can see how nicely they knit up undyed here.

On the weaving front I have a couple of colourful sofa throws to finish and the last of these red scarves to complete.